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Striving for success: Towards a refined understanding and measurement of ambition
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-04-06, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103577
Andreas Hirschi, Daniel Spurk

Despite broad interest in the nature of ambition and its effects on career outcomes, scientific research on this issue is limited due to an inconsistent conceptualization and measurement of ambition. Consistent with theoretical views, but in contrast to most existing measurements, we conceptualize ambition as a general personal disposition and developed and evaluated a 5-item measure of ambition consistent with this conceptualization. We report a six-phase process including (1) item generation, (2) item content review by subject matter experts, (3) item reduction and selection based on a university student (N = 1074) and employee (N = 469) sample, (4) examining convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity in relation to existing ambition scales with an employee sample (N = 301), (5) establishing discriminant validity to other personal dispositions in terms of achievement striving, trait competitiveness, and future time perspective with an employee sample (N = 544), and (6) establishing re-test reliability, longitudinal measurement-invariance, and incremental criterion validity regarding objective (i.e., salary, promotions) and subjective career success (i.e., career satisfaction) with a six-month time-lagged study (N = 394). In sum, the newly developed scale should be useful for future research to improve the theoretical and empirical understanding of the nature and effects of ambition.